Fundraisers celebrate as railway path reopening moves step closer

By Geoff Courtney

Members of the Lake District Foundation are celebrating the success of a campaign to raise funds towards the reopening of part of the former Cockermouth Keswick & Penrith Railway, a popular path until being devastated by floods nearly three years ago.

The three miles of trackbed between Keswick and Threlkeld had become a popular attraction to walkers, tourists and cyclists since its opening as a trail in 1985, but in December 2015 Storm Desmond struck the area with devastating results, and none more so than on this stretch of former railway.

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Single-minded: LMS-designed, BR-built Class 2MT No. 46432 waits at Threlkeld station, the fireman having been given the single line token to allow the train to proceed westwards towards Keswick, over the stretch of line that was converted into a popular railway path, but is currently closed after being ravaged by storms in 2015. The date of the photograph is unrecorded, but the 2-6-0 carries a 12C shedplate, indicating a date of between 1955 and 1958, when the engine’s home shed of Workington was allocated that code. The 18-lever signalbox which towers over the locomotive closed in 1967, and on the right is the goods yard crane, constructed of timber, but with two heavy braces, perhaps to enable it to lift heavy stone blocks from nearby quarries. CUMBRIAN RAILWAYS ASSOCIATION/MAY038

Two original railway bridges crossing the River Greta and 220 yards of embankment were washed away, a third bridge was damaged, and a section of raised boardwalk destabilised.

The damage was estimated at nearly £5½ million, and last December Highways England provided a grant of £2½ million from a fund for paths that were suitable for off-road cycling, and so reduced the need for cyclists to use busy roads.

In addition, the Lake District National Park Authority announced a fundraising partnership with the Lake District Foundation, which finances conservation, environmental and cultural heritage projects, and this has now passed the six-figure mark – a landmark described by foundation director Sarah Swindley as “a testament to the amazing community spirit in Keswick.”

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